Are On the Coffee Train? Want to Get Off? (Coffee Part One)

A Shot of Coffee- Photo by Matt Hoffman on Unsplash

Are you one of those people who cannot start their day without a cup of coffee? Do you find that one of the first things you do at work in the morning is run to coffee machine or pot because you Coffee Cup with Beans Spilling- Photo by Math on Unsplash- just “have to have” your cup of coffee to get you going?

Then, you find that yourself filling up during the day to keep yourself going. You are a serial drinker, kind of like a serial smoker? You finish one cup and when the effect begins to wear off, you grab another. Next thing you know, your tally at the end of  the day is 6 cups or more? And you don’t feel any better for it in the end but can’t get off this coffee train because you’ve convinced yourself this is the only way you can get through the day.

Then there’s the other issue. Do you take your coffee…..

Black or Blonde?

Do you like your coffee black? Or perhaps coffee is simply a convenient way to get a flavored sugar and dairy rush because you add so much of both to your cup? You may not understand why you have to add all this sweetness to your brew but there is a good reason, Its probably not what you think.

My bet is that the first time you took a drink of coffee- black, you didn’t like it. That’s because the caffeine in it has a very bitter taste. That’s why you need to mask the bitterness of black coffee with another addictive and generally recognized as harmful to your health substance- sugar.

So, you take it blonde which means you lace it with cream and sugar helping to cover over the awful taste of the coffee. Now, its a habit and the only way you can take it. Except that now along with the caffeine, you are getting shots of another drug-like compound- sugar. Two birds (and possibly addictions if we are honest about it) with one stone, so to speak.

The Truth About Coffee

With the next few posts what I would like to do is examine coffee in a bit more depth.

Some of what I post may not be easy for the “coffee lover” to hear. Sorry about that but I don’t have an ax to grind on the issue. I will drink it very occasionally myself (black only), but much less often these days after going back over the research for this series of posts.

What I will do with these posts is present you with what I know as facts about the brew. The caffeine industry may not see it that way, perhaps that’s because they do have an ax to grind- and the money to sharpen it.

You can make your own decision about what you want to do with the information. At least whatever you decide, you’ll be better informed about coffee and its potential impact on your overall health.

Now, let’s take a closer look at this coffee thingy.

Coffee- Where It Stands

First of all, off the top of your head, my guess is that you would think the U.S. would be the highest coffee consuming nation in the world. I did anyway.

Well, it isn’t according to Euromonitor International based on 2013 figures and others. As reported by The Caffeine Informer site: Scandinavians sure like their coffee- Finland, Norway and the Netherlands are the top three. Denmark (just below Sweden) is #7 on their list. The U.S. is # 21. Not what I expected.

On the World Atlas list,  the U.S. is even lower at #25. The top 6 are those thirsty Scandinavians once again- Finland, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Netherlands and Sweden respectively.

However, coffee is still a big market in the U.S. According to Statista (who claims to draw from more than 22,500 sources), in 2016 retail sales were about $5.18 billion and one of our favorite beverages.

Additionally, as we age we seem to consume more of it with the 60 years and older group consuming the most at 68% and the 18 to 24 year old group consuming the least at 50%. That may point to the need for that boost from the caffeine part perception at an age one is slowing or perhaps a longer term addiction for which the body has developed more tolerance to protect itself from assault.

However, from the above we can conclude that if you have Scandinavian heritage or in the senior category, chances are good- you like your coffee. If you are a senior with Scandinavian heritage stick around, these posts may be of particular interest and use for you.

The Good Stuff- So We Are Told

Apart from the fact that coffee tastes good and is known to produce addictive behavior, keep in mind that to truly validate coffee research is not so easy. The author of Caffeine Blues, Stephen Cherniske, M.S, who was a research and clinical nutritionist when he wrote his book, found that much of the research he ran into was, as he put it, imprecise. There are a lot of variables.

  • Quality of the Coffee (some are very high in caffeine, some not so much- some are organic, others well…questionable quality)
  • Quantity Consumed (some take a small cup, others a soup bowl amount- both call it a cup of coffee)
  • Research Funding (Face it, if your researcher is paying you and they are in the industry are you really going to expect to get paid for slamming them?)
  • Brewing Method (Drip filtered gives you about 100 mg of caffeine. Perking it- 120 mg. Euro-style boiled- 160 mg and there are even caffeine differences in the same methods.)
  • Present Health of the Consumer (Caffeine’s effect is cumulative. People who are health compromised are going to respond differently as well.)

What Cherniske concluded from his pretty thorough research was that:

This conflicting data once again demonstrates that the idea of normal coffee consumption is meaningless.

Now, please don’t shoot the messenger. Some of those claims seem highly questionable to me too, in fact, laughable. I mean really, makes your hair grown, erectile dysfunction, prevent weight gain (No offense to the overweight, but have you noticed that people who drink coffee are thinner? Sorry, but I haven’t. Maybe that’s just me.) Anyway, I didn’t construct the list but it sure seems like a stretch here in some of these claims. Others, are simply myths promoted by the coffee industry and our own misjudgments.

Let me just advise you to check out the list with links yourself and see what you think. However, take it with a grain of salt (not sugar) as the author Cherniske noted on the research. There is a lot of money on the line in the coffee market. It stands to reason that they would obviously be ready and willing to produce positive research for the industry.

Keep this in mind when you look at the following partial list. These are the claimed benefits of coffee. (For the complete list of 26 benefits and links to the research click here.)

  • Caffeine Helps Your Memory
  • Caffeine Enemas Cleanse the Liver
  • Caffeine Keeps You Alert
  • Caffeine Makes Your Hair Grow
  • Caffeine May Help with Parkinson’s Disease
  • Caffeine May Help Ward Off Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Caffeine May Prevent Skin Cancer
  • Caffeine Helps Men with Erectile Dysfunction
  • Caffeine is Good for the Heart
  • Caffeine May Prevent Weight Gain
  • Caffeine Reduces Driver Error

Pretty great stuff huh? Resolves critical diseases, helps our hair grow, keeps our weight down, makes us smarter, helps us remember more, healthier and makes us drive better to boot. Why wouldn’t you drink it….a lot and often too? It’s almost a miracle drug!

After you check out the links, check out the next post in which we’ll cover some of the cons of coffee.

Read Coffee Part Two

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